Tag Archives: Roki Sasaki

NPB wrap 8-15-21

There’s a first time for everything

…and sometimes there are more than one, as we learned Sunday when Carter Stewart Jr., who has made a bunch of starts in the minors since he turned pro in Japan in 2019, made his “first pro start” according to Japan’s sports media on Sunday.

Stewart who has started exhibitions with the first team as well was making his first-team official game starting debut and it was pretty impressive, leading to a six-pitcher no-hit relay for the SoftBank Hawks.

Yakult rookie Yasunobu Okugawa also struck out nine on Sunday, and Seibu’s Yutaro Watanabe, the Lions’ second pick out of high school in 2018, won his first career game, so three rookie starters won — or rather deserved to win in Stewart’s case.

Lotte rookie Roki “Rocket” Sasaki, however, only lasted five and got banged up a bit preventing it from being a complete rookie pitcher banner day, but nobody’s perfect.

Hawks 0, Fighters 0

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Carter Stewart, Jr. struck out nine over five innings in his starting debut and five SoftBank relievers completed the day without allowing a hit, making it a combined no-hitter to you and me, but not in the eyes of Japanese pro baseball, where those are exclusively individual accomplishments.

Stewart, starting in the place of Tsuyoshi Wada, who is suffering from arm issues, brushed the arm guard of the first batter he faced before retiring the next 15.

The Fighters, behind Drew VerHagen, who allowed one hit over three innings, while striking out three, used five pitchers to complete a three-hit shutout.

The Hawks had a scoring opportunity in the eighth against Bryan Rodriguez with one out and speedy Ukyo Shuto on third but tried to squeeze him home. Rodriguez bounced the pitch. The batter, Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, who repeatedly showed his bunting chops during the Olympics, missed it. Fighters catcher Ryo Ishikawa caught it and made the putout when Shuto ran out of the baseline to avoid the tag.

The Hawks’ final pitcher, Hiroshi Kaino, pitched for the first time since 2019 after last year was wiped out by injury and surgery and hit 98 mph in a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Fighters, who lost on Friday and Saturday, struck out 41 times in 27 innings over the weekend.

Lions 10, Eagles 2

At MetLife Dome, it was a different day, and a different former Lions ace as Seibu smacked around Hideaki Wakui (6-7, 5.18), hammering him for six runs in two innings.

Seibu rookie Yutaro Watanabe (1-2, 3.50) allowed a run over five innings to earn his first pro win, knocking the Eagles 1-1/2 games back of the first-place Buffaloes.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 3

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Lotte rookie Roki Sasaki allowed three runs in five innings, took a shot off his body and surrendered a two-run Adam Jones home run, his third, but didn’t figure in the decision. Sachiya Yamasaki (5-6, 3.45) allowed three runs over five innings but earned the win because Yutaro Sugimoto smashed a two-run sixth-inning double off Fumiya Ono (0-2).

Giants 4, Dragons 2

At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri starter Shosei Togo worked four scoreless innings but was yanked with two outs in the fifth after hitting pinch-hitter Ariel Martinez to force in Chunichi’s second run. 

Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-5, 2.93) allowed a pair of solo homers, in the first to Hayato Sakamoto, his 12th, and in the fourth to Takumi Oshiro, his ninth. The Giants’ Zealous Wheeler singled in a pair of runs in the third.

Thyago Vieira worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his 11th save.

Giants-Dragons highlights

Swallows 4, BayStars 1

At Niigata’s Hard Off Eco Stadium, Jose Osuna bounced a two-run bases-loaded single through the infield to give rookie Yasunobu Okugawa (5-2, 3.88) the lead after the right-hander surrendered a run on Toshiro Miyazaki’s ninth homer in the second.

Okugawa struck out nine over seven innings, while allowing four hits and no walks, while Shota Imanaga (3-3, 3.50) gave up three runs over 6-2/3 innings on two walks and six hits. He also struck out nine.

Swallows relievers Noboru Shimizu and Scott McGough each struck out two in a scoreless inning, with McGough fanning fellow Team USA Olympic silver medalist Tyler Austin in the ninth as he recorded his 17th save.

Tetsuto Yamada, the Olympic tournament MVP, singled, doubled, walked twice and scored twice for the Swallows.

Tigers 3, Carp 0

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (8-4, 3.12) escaped a series of tight spots as he allowed six hits and two walks over five scoreless innings thanks to seven strikeouts. Koji Chikamoto opened Hanshin’s first with his seventh home run, and singled and score the Tigers’ second off Haruki Omichi (4-3, 4.20) on a third-inning Jerry Sands RBI single.

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NPB wrap 8-14-21

Stewart gets 1st top team start

Carter Stewart Jr., the eighth overall pick in MLB’s 2018 draft, will make his first Pacific League start for the SoftBank Hawks on Sunday. He’ll be standing in for former Chicago Cubs lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, whom the Hawks deactivated Saturday due to “lack of right-arm fitness.”

On the farm this year, Stewart is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA. He’s allowed 35 hits in 49 innings while walking 19 and striking out 51. He’s allowed six runs in four first-team relief outings with seven strikeouts and nine walks in 5-1/3 innings.

and Roki the rocket will pitch too

Another young headliner for Sunday will be teenage flamethrower Roki Sasaki, who will pitch against the Buffaloes. Sasaki has a 3.76 ERA in 26-1/3 innings. On the farm, he’s allowed three runs, one earned, on 10 hits and one homer over 20 innings, striking out 19, walking three and hitting two.

Olympic break special offer

3 Free Months: Japanese baseball is cranking back up after its nearly month-long Olympic break. To mark the occasion all new (or returning) paid subscribers by Sunday, Aug. 15, will get three months free. Paid subscribers get unlimited access to paid content and all posts older than 6 months. So now’s a great chance to keep up as the pennant races heat up.

Hawks 2, Fighters 0

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Nao Higashihama (3-2, 3.14) matched Shuta Ishikawa’s 11 strikeouts on Friday with a career-high 11 of his own over eight innings as the Hawks managed a three-hit shutout after a one-hitter the day before. Naoyuki Uwasawa (6-4, 3.39) allowed two runs over 6-2/3 innings while striking out 10.

Yuki Yanagita doubled and opened the scoring on an Alfredo Despaigne single, and the Fighters set Kenta Imamiya up for an RBI double by playing shallow with two outs and a runner on second in the seventh, allowing his routine fly to deep center to drive in a run.

With their bullpen still depleted, Sho Iwasaki worked around Wang Po-jung’s leadoff infield single in the ninth to record his fifth save.

Marines 4, Buffaloes 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Orix took an early two-run lead for the second straight day, but the Marines bounced back against lefty Daiki Tajima (5-6, 3.65) in a four-run second on four hits, including two doubles and Kyota Fujiwara’s rally-capping two-run homer, his third.

Manabu Mima (4-4, 5.84) allowed the first four Buffaloes to reach in the second but stranded two in the fourth and three in the fifth to leave with a two-run lead and four Lotte relievers finished up with Chihaya Sasaki and closer Naoya Masuda combining to retire the final six hitters. Masuda earned his 23rd save.

Eagles 7, Lions 6

At MetLife Dome, Rakuten’s bullpen delivered more quality innings, allowing the Eagles to survive a slugfest with Yuki Matsui to earn his 24th save.

Hiroaki Shimauchi and Eigoro Mogi homered to break a 2-2 fourth-inning tie off Tatsuya Imai, only for Hotaka Yamakawa to tie it again with a two-run bases-loaded fifth-inning double off Eagles reliever Yuya Fukui.

Tomohito Sakai and Tomohiro Anraku each stranded a pair of runners in the sixth and seventh, but Sung Chia-hao took a 7-4 lead into the eighth and barely escaped with the lead. He gave up two runs and escaped only when Takumi Kuriyama lined into a double play.

Lions closer Tatsushi Masuda (0-3), appearing for the first time since May 1, surrendered two runs in the top of the seventh and Matt Dermody gave up an insurance run in the eighth. Reed Garrett worked a scoreless ninth after it was already to late for the Lions.

Eagles starter Ryota Takinaka was yanked after allowing two runs in four innings.

Giants 6, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, New Olympic bronze medalist C. C. Mercedes (5-1, 2.25) allowed a run in the first on a leadoff walk, a sacrifice and back-to-back singles before a pair of strikeouts got him out of the inning. Mercedes pitched the Dominican Republic’s opener against Japan, and allowed a run over six innings in a duel with Yoshinobu Yamamoto.

Mercedes repeatedly worked out of trouble but came out after throwing 108 pitches over five innings.

The Giants took a 3-1 lead against Yariel Rodriguez (0-1, 4.82) in the first. Seiya Matsubara singled to open the inning before Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshihiro Maru, who drove the Giants’ offense in their 4-2 come-from-behind win on Friday, did the rest. Sakamoto, Yomiuri’s lone gold medalist, had three hits and a walk the night before. He walked, and Maru plated them with his 11th home run.

Giants-Dragons highlights

BayStars vs Swallows

At Niigata’s Hard Off Eco Stadium, rained out

Tigers 9, Carp 3

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Jerry Sands blasted his 18th and 19th home runs way up into the cheap seats, while summer trade acquisition Akira Niho (1-0, 5.11) allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings to earn the win.

Carp starter Allen Kuri (7-6, 3.70) blew a 1-0 lead in the second on an error, singles by Mel Rojas Jr. and Ryutaro Umeno and a Koji Chikamoto sac fly. Sands’ first homer made it 3-1 in the third. Umeno singled to lead off the fourth but was cut down at home on a throw from Seiya Suzuki in right. With two outs, Sands blasted a three-run shot and Yusuke Oyama followed by homering for the second straight day with his 12th. Oyama later chipped in with his 13th.

Carp catcher Shogo Sakakura, who singled in a run in the first, took Niho deep in the sixth for a solo homer, his fifth. Rookie Kota Hayashi then chased Niho with his fifth homer.

Starting pitchers

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Yutaro Watanabe (0-2, 4.15) vs Hideaki Wakui (6-6, 4.69)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Roki Sasaki (1-2, 3.76) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (4-6, 3.31)

Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Carter Stewart, Jr. (0-0, 10.13) vs Drew VerHagen (2-6, 6.13)

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shosei Togo (8-4, 3.87) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (6-4, 2.93)

BayStars vs Swallows: Hard Off Eco Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shota Imanaga (3-2, 3.61) vs Yasunobu Okugawa (4-2, 4.19)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takumi Akiyama (7-4, 3.32) vs Haruki Omichi (4-2, 4.11)

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Active roster moves 8/14/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/24

Central League


GiantsP42Cristopher Crisostomo Mercedes
DragonsP67Yariel Rodriguez
DragonsIF48Hayato Mizowaki


DragonsIF37Taiki Mitsumata

Pacific League


LionsP11Tatsuya Imai
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima


HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada